The Weekly Daf

For the week ending 23 May 2009 / 28 Iyyar 5769

Bava Metzia 30 - 36

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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Teacher Or Supporter - Who Comes First?

If you come across objects lost by

  • your father and
  • your Torah teacher

and are able to only return one of them to its owner...

...your teacher must be given precedence.

Your father brought you into this world but the man who teaches you Torah wisdom brings you to the World to Come.

  • Bava Metzia 33a

This is true only when the teacher receives no compensation. But if he is not prepared to teach for free and the father provides the salary then the father's lost object takes precedence. In similar fashion, if a benefactor or group of benefactors provide the salary which motivates the rabbi to teach, then the benefactor's object takes precedence to that of the teacher.

  • Sefer Chassidim Par. 585, cited by Sifsei Cohen (66) on Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 242:34

Poverty Is A Poor Excuse

Your own lost object takes precedence over all others...

...even that of your father or your teacher.

The Torah source for this is the passage (Devarim 15:4) "But there shall be no poor among you" which indicates that a person should avoid poverty. Nevertheless, warned Rabbi Yehuda in the name of the Sage Rav, one who strictly adheres to this selfish avoidance of poverty will eventually suffer poverty.

Although you are not obligated to give others precedence over yourself you should go beyond the letter of the law except in a case of substantial loss. Otherwise, consistent selfishness will detach you from charity and kindness and bring upon you the punishment of poverty.

  • Bava Metzia 33a

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